Delaware stuns Georgetown in NCAA Tournament first round final


Delaware stuns Georgetown in NCAA Tournament first round final

PHOTO BY MARK CAMPBELL/DELAWARE ATHLETICS

Delaware’s JP Ward attacks the goal as Georgetown’s James Donaldson defends. Ward’s goal with 8.8 seconds left gave the Blue Hens a 10-9 victory over the second-seeded Hoyas.

WASHINGTON- A trip to No. 2 seed Georgetown on a short rest didn’t bother Delaware much. Neither did a two-goal deficit late in the final five minutes of Sunday’s game to cap the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Blue Hens looked like they belonged – at first, of course, and certainly at the end – as they staged a 10-9 upset against the Hoyas to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2007 .

JP Ward scored the game-winning goal with 8.8 seconds left to seal victory for Delaware, who will face seventh-seeded Cornell in the quarterfinals on Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.

“We’ve just had a historic victory,” said Blue Hens goalkeeper Matt Kilkeary, who made 14 saves. “Hopefully we’re on the map now and people don’t take us lightly.”

It was a rare moment, but not without precedent. Delaware became the fifth team to upset a No. 2 seed in the first round since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 16 teams in 2003. Virginia (2007), Syracuse (2010 and 2014) and Denver (2016) were the previous much-loved teams sent to pack so soon.

Delaware pulled off the first of those upsets 15 years ago, a 14-8 rout that left little doubt. This one was a bit more heartbreaking, especially after Georgetown (15-2) erased a three-goal first hole and took a 9-7 lead over Connor Morin’s goal with 4:39 to go.

“A big part of our plan and what we’ve done this season, especially the last two weeks, has been belief,” Delaware coach Ben DeLuca said. “Belief in what we do, belief in themselves, belief in our team, belief in our process. It was a major ingredient of what we needed tonight, and our guys showed it. Without a doubt, never hesitated.

Graham Bundy Jr. scored three goals for the Hoyas, whose 11-game winning streak came to a shocking end.

Georgetown coach Kevin Warne said he was concerned coming out of the Big East tournament with the way his side ended their 14-12 victory over Villanova as a six-goal lead was reduced in the last few minutes. Delaware, meanwhile, had a pair of wins in the CAA Tournament before beating Robert Morris 20-8 in a playoff on Wednesday.

And while the Blue Hens were very opportunistic, Georgetown never quite found their footing. The Hoyas were held to less than 10 goals for only the second time this season (the other being a 10-8 loss to Princeton on March 5) and never got to capitalize on Delaware’s decision to use a short stick to defend top scorer Dylan Watson. , which was held scoreless on five shots.

“This is playoff lacrosse,” Warne said. ” Everyone is well. You have to respect victory because victory will be taken away from you in a second if you don’t respect it and how you achieve it. They were the best team tonight and they beat us.

The Hoyas have often felt comfortable in frantic situations all season, and Delaware has never let the game get too disrupted. Georgetown rode a four-goal streak in the first half to take a 5-4 lead, but never again staged one of their trademark pushes to create a separation.

“It was really important,” DeLuca said. “I’m proud of our guys for the way they’ve done because they’re an explosive team that’s hyper-athletic and hyper-skilled. Our guys have been playing strong for a while now. We also played less than perfect, but capitalized when we needed to.

Instead, it was Delaware that provided a burst when needed. Drew Lenkaitis and Tye Kurtz scored on back-to-back possessions to tie it at 9 with 2:13 left, and TJ Haley’s pass eluded Morin with 1:13 left to return the ball to the Blue Hens.

They cleared him and called timeout with 1:04 remaining and were clearly just playing for the last shot. Lenkaitis waited to kick off the final game until 16 seconds remained, and he fired a pass from behind the cage to Ward, who scored his 40th goal of the season to win it.

Delaware will play in the quarterfinals for only the fourth time. He lost in 1984 and 1999, then built his upset against Virginia with a 10-6 loss to unranked UMBC in 2007 to earn his only trip to date to Memorial Day weekend.

“You can hear all the elders in the crowd,” Kurtz said. “It’s not just the guys on the pitch today. Anyone who has completed this program [has been] build it the way we want the program to be built.

In addition to absorbing what was easily the stun of the weekend, Georgetown joined an unwanted group of No. 2 seeds in making an early exit.

The 2007 Virginia, 2010 Syracuse and 2016 Denver teams were all fired harshly as they began title defense attempts. The 2014 Syracuse team played in the national title game a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Georgetown was in the new position as a hunted after gradually building over the past five seasons. The Hoyas were surprise Big East winners in 2018 and 2019, and last year beat Syracuse in the first round as the No. 5 seed before falling to fourth-seeded Virginia.

“We made a good effort,” Warne said. “I don’t think we played very smart. That’s what it was really about.

The effort was never in question for Delaware either, which is no surprise to anyone who remembers DeLuca’s teams at Cornell. He was let go in November 2013 from the Ivy League school, and now the Big Red stand between the Blue Hens and a place in the semi-finals.

DeLuca only smiled when the coincidence was mentioned, noting that he felt good and was grateful to his team for moving on and having another week together.

It’s hard to believe many would have guessed this would have happened just a week ago, let alone when Delaware fell to 6-5 on April 9 with their third straight loss.

“It’s been a long journey,” Kilkeary said. “I would say we are one of the hottest teams in the country right now.”

More importantly, they are one of eight teams still playing. And based on Sunday’s showing, the Blue Hens belong to the biggest stage they’ve won in the past two weeks.

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